Elektra: First-Ever Quadruple Asteroid System Discovered

cosmos science

A team of Thai and French scientists identified the first known triple Asteroid system in our solar system. A third moon has been discovered circling the main-belt asteroid Elektra, which currently possesses two moons. A third moonlet was previously concealed, according to data acquired by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile in 2014. However, a new data-processing technique created by Anthony Berdeu of Thailand’s National Astronomical Research Institute takes a fresh look at Elektra observations from 2014.

The asteroid 130 Elektra contains three moons rather than two, as previously assumed, making it the core of the first quadruple asteroid system found. To put it another way, it has more moons than all four inner planets in our Solar System combined, which is quite an accomplishment considering it is the size of 47 American states.

Elektra is a main-belt asteroid with a 5.5-year orbit. It’s hardly a colossus at 200 kilometres (120 miles) broad, but it’s huge enough to have been discovered in 1873 and followed ever since. Its first moon was identified in 2003, although that was not remarkable — asteroids frequently have moons. In 2014, a second buddy was identified. However, as the slightly bigger asteroid, Sylvia had previously been discovered to have two moons nine years before, this was not very noteworthy.

Berdeu’s algorithms validated the two previously known moons, as well as the fainter third moon, which is no longer obscured by the brightness of the parent asteroid Elektra. The findings of the study headlined “First sighting of a triple asteroid,” were published last week in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Dr Berdeu created the data processing technology used to discover S/2014 (130) 2 for his PhD and was applying it to Jupiter’s moons when he found the same telescope had been watching Elektra around the same time. After proving its effectiveness, the approach might be used to discover new moons around other asteroids.

NASA already has a mission named after a Beatles song that is on its way to visit asteroids. So yet, no initiatives to investigate this fab four have been disclosed.